convict labor


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convict labor,

work of prison inmates. Until the 19th cent., labor was introduced in prisons chiefly as punishment. Such work is now considered a necessary part of the rehabilitation of the criminal; it is also used to keep discipline and reduce the costs of prison maintenance. The main types of work in prison communities are maintenance activities, outdoor public works (farming, road building, reforestation), and industrial labor. Considered a source of cheap labor, convicts were formerly put to work on contract, lease, or piecework bases for private industries. Convict labor played an important role in the settlement of Australia, and in the development of some of the Middle and Southern colonies established by Britain in America. In recent decades these methods have been condemned, and prison industries are devoted to the production of goods used in state institutions. Because of competition with nonprison labor, interstate commerce in the products of convict labor has been restricted in the United States since 1934. Wages are paid in many state and federal prisons in the United States and in many European countries. The notorious chain gangs of some Southern states, in which convicts engaged in physical labor outside the prison were shackled together, no longer exist, but Alabama briefly and unsuccessfully attempted to revive the chain gang in the mid-1990s. Work-release programs have been introduced with some success in France, Norway, Sweden, and the United States, whereby convicts are allowed to work outside prisons in private industry during the latter part of their prison terms; for this work the convict receives the same wages as a regular civilian worker. Although U.S. law bans the importation of goods produced by convict labor, a sizable percentage of China's exports is alleged to come from labor camps.
References in periodicals archive ?
Neither members of the Granite Cutters Unions nor the Knights of Labor needed to spend time in the capitol quarries or see a whipping to know that they opposed the exploitation of convict labor or competition with imported contract workers like the Scots.
1996a Twice the Work of Free Labor: The Political Economy of Convict Labor in the New South.
Coal company officials, who employed convict labor mainly because it gave them leverage in bargaining with the miners, persuaded the governor to dispatch militia to retrieve the convicts and defend the stockades.
Convict labor quickly became less of an instrument of reform than state-run slavery.
The purpose of this essay is not to trace the condition of convict labor at the Besshi mine (Niihama-City, 1973).
In some cases, when a state could not afford to rebuild or maintain a prison, it would "farm out" its entire convict labor force, thereby meeting its responsibility to manage the prison.
Since he opposed indentured servitude and convict labor, Smith would no doubt have deplored much about the Virginia that ultimately emerged.
Smith, Colonists in Bondage: White Servitude and Convict Labor in America, 1607-1776 (Chapel Hill, 1947), p.
It is interesting that changes in the regulation of convict labor have moved in parallel fashion to changes in the regulation of industrial out-work.
The December 14 Washington Post said that includes "farms run by the Arkansas Department of Corrections, which produces cotton and other crops using convict labor.
Editors De Vito and Lichtenstein present students, academics, and researchers with a collection of academic papers and scholarly articles focused on the global history of convict labor both in theory and in practice.
In terms of market value, convict labor was a good deal; convicts went for about one-third the cost of a slave, and buyers had none of the long-term responsibilities to provide care and resources that they would have for enslaved labor.